In the last few years, platforms have stripped away any hint of how vast they actually are. As a result, users only get to see a tiny sliver of an entire platform. There’s been an overwhelming push to build tools specifically designed for engagement (like buttons, emoji responses, comment threading) instead of building tools that help users actually explore. This has replaced any sense of play with a bleak struggle for users attention. The marketing line for these new tools could easily be, “engage more, explore less.” I’m proposing that we begin designing with vastness in mind again. The data is already there, all we have to do as designers and engineers is to build tools that reveal how expansive these platforms really are.
Ethan Marcotte paints things in a different light by looking at business incentive:
…ultimately, the web’s performance problem is a problem of profitability. If we’re going to talk about bloated pages, we should do so in context: in the context of a web where digital advertising revenue is cratering for publishers, but is positively flourishing for Facebook and Google. We should look at the underlying structural issues that incentivize a company to include heavy advertising scripts and pesky overlays, or examine the market challenges that force a publisher to adopt something like AMP.
In other words, the way we talk about slow websites needs to be much, much broader. If we can do that, then we’ll have a sharper understanding of where—and how—the web can be faster.